One of my commitments for Holy Week this year was to write a blog post every day until Easter, and I’m not exactly off to a good start. You see, I already have writer’s block. Actually, there are a lot of blog post ideas swirling around in my head, but they would all take too much time to write out because they’re not fully formed. Just imagine trying to draw a complete image of a lion when the lion is mostly hidden in the shadows; you could make up the portion you can’t see, but it would never been as good as the reality.
Today, I’ve decided to put together just a little list of some of the pros and cons of being a nanny. This post won’t have much of my usual (or so I like to think) depth, but maybe it will bring you some enjoyment. I will begin with the cons because I’d like to leave you with the positive side.
1) No matter how much you love the kids or how much you sacrifice for them, they will never be yours. You may adore them. You may sacrifice all of your time and energy towards making them good, happy people. But you will never be their mom. One day, sooner or later (more likely sooner), you will not be their nanny any more. If you are the nanny of young children, they will quickly forget you and all that you did for them. You will never forget them, and you will miss them dearly because, even though you were never their mom, they were your children.
2) There’s inevitably a bit of an awkwardness between you and the parents. You spend a LOT of time with the kids, but very little time with the parents (unless you’re like me and you’re constantly, accidentally over-staying your welcome); when you are with the parents, you pretty much only talk about what the kids did that day. They may even be just a little bit jealous of you because you see their kids more than they do. If you’re the nanny of a baby, you probably witness more of the “firsts” than mom and dad do.
3) “Parenting” is a whole lot harder because you have basically no control. Not only do you have to think through the regular parenting stuff, “What’s best for my kid right now? What’s best for my kid long-term? What does my kid want?” you also have to think, “Are mom and dad okay with this? Is this what they would do? Is this a significant enough event that I should write it down for them?” and so on and so forth. You have to follow and enforce somebody else’s rules.
4) If you’re the nanny of multiple kids, you have to deal with parenting out of the regular order. What I mean by that is most people start out with one kid, they adjust to life with one kid, they have a second kid; they adjust to life with two kids, etc. As a nanny, you’re kind of thrown into the middle. Suddenly, you’re taking seven crazy kids to the grocery store when, just yesterday, you only had to take yourself shopping.
5) Unless you’re fortunate enough to be an au pair, you have to live two lives. One life as part of a crazy, beautiful family with kids and messes galore, and another life where you’re just a regular young adult, hanging out by yourself in your apartment. Those post-work hours, weekends, and holidays can be exceedingly lonely.
1) You get all of the beautiful moments and memories without the sleep-deprivation! You don’t have to deal with night-terrors, midnight diaper changes, throwing up in the bed, wetting the bed stuff… yet.
2) You get to learn what it’s like to be a parent without the life-time commitment. You learn different parenting tricks, you learn child psychology, you help solve problems, make new things, and experiment. Every thing you use as a nanny you can later use when you have your own kids.
3) You learn. A LOT. And not just about parenting. You learn to be punctual, to keep calm in the face of a crisis, to be assertive and authoritative, to live in the moment, and to LOVE. Every day you’re learning something new and wonderful.
4) You’re making a relationship that will last forever. Maybe the kids won’t remember that you were their nanny, but if you keep in contact with them, they will be your little friends forever.
5) Nannying helps you to see beauty where you never would have seen it before: “Wow, Nathan! That is a gorgeous… um… what is it exactly? Oh! That is a gorgeous dragon!” 🙂 Without the kids I nanny, I might never notice how adorable a tiny pebble can be, or how marvelous a blue sky is, or how amazing a tiny flower is, or how supreme a moment of silence can be!